Local authorities and culture

ACE and the MLA organised a day last week for local authorities who are working to increase engagement in the arts (and museums and libraries).

A panel discussion at the close included some of the leading thinkers (and doers) involved in local authority cultural provision.

Philip Mind from the LGA reminded us that people define themselves by their experiences and suggested local councils could be better at aligning themselves with the experiences they provide for local people.

In Martyn Allison from IDeA’s experience –  1/3 of local authorities have culture (relatively) well positioned within their service and LSP.  The factors that distinguish these are:

  1. Effective leadership
  2. Appropriate partnerships
  3. Activities relevant to partners (“not just doing what you’ve always done…”)
  4. Obtaining and disseminating evidence of impacts

I think he’s right – and I would extend the definition of partners to include  residents.

Tricia Kilsby from the Audit Commission’s view was that the most secure culture teams were those that were connected and responsive to their communities.

All very stimulating, as was Helen Ball, Head of Culture from Barnsley, who as well as putting it into practice  had the best accent of the day …

Noises off: Are audiences just too old?

Interesting little blog entry from Chris Wilkinson over at the Guardian website today, examining ageist views on audiences.

8 Things to Avoid When Building an online Community

Happy New Year! Mashable (my favourite blog for all things gadget-y) have posted an interesting guide with top tips on how to create an e-community.

The 90-9-1 principle for how users participate in social communities


This came up at the ambITion roadshow and is my new favourite theory on social engagement, both online and offfline!

The 90-9-1 principle dictates that while 90% of people are reader/observers, 9% are more actively engaged as editors of content, while a mere 1% are actually creating anything in the first place!

A fascinating insight into how users participate in social communities… read more at http://www.90-9-1.com/

Free labour = survive the recession?

In the charitable sector we to tend to be a little more aware than other sectors of the power of working with volunteers. This week the commercial sector seem to have taken it in a a whole new direction, with BA aksing their staff to work for free. Not quite the same thing chaps…

As reported in the Third Sector this week, skilled professional volunteers could be a vital tool in supporting organisations struggling in the current financial climate. This point was raised by the presenter Jon Snow, at the Charity Trustee Networks annual lecture. As fantastic as it sounds, he did manage to clearly and concisely explain:

He [Snow] said people in his newsroom would not be receptive to charity appeals for volunteers to hand out soup, but would be willing to lend help with web design and communications.

How are you tapping into this unclaimed resource? Please do share your experiences.

Happily sharing (work) space…

Sharing Spaces is a savvy little report for NCVO about co-location.   Supported by the Baring Foundation, this NCVYS project was designed to enable a number of national and regional voluntary youth service organisations to happily share premises in London.  The findings and guidance would be useful for cultural organisations looking at the same issue.

Market Segments are not Communities!

I couldn’t agree more…    for a while now I’ve been getting twitchy about how the word community is being used to cover all kinds of groupings.  Now Nathan Gillat’s over at Social Media Today has posted some great thoughts about this.

In short – Nathan’s saying, and I agree, that marketers (and others too) are using community to describe groups they’d like to reach.  Whether these groups are real or not is another matter, and something that you’ll only find out by doing some research, often at a local level.  Nathan comes up with a useful breakdown of the elements that make up a community:

  1. Self-identified
  2. Exclusive
  3. Connected
  4. Communicating
  5. Supporting

When we talk about community engagement here at Audiences London we’re talking about reaching these identifiable groups in ways that allows for a 2-way dialogue.